The National Basketball Association made official on Friday what everyone already knew: The Celtics will play the first game of the truncated, 66-game 2011-12 season.
The league announced that the Celtics and Knicks will kick off a five-game Christmas Day schedule with their noon game at Madison Square Garden. The teams were scheduled to play on the original schedule, and the players and owners worked to reach a deal last week in order to save the Christmas schedule.
Comcast SportsNet will bring you coverage before and after the game with Celtics Pre and Postgame Live.
The full scheduled will be released Tuesday night during a special on NBATV.
The Bruins took care of their biggest priority today as they reached agreement with Brad Marchand on an eight-year contract extension, according to several reports.
PROFILE: Joe Haggerty's preseason look at Brad Marchand
Elliotte Friedman reports Marchand has agreed to an eight year, $49 million extension ($6.125 million per season) that will effectively allow him to finish his career in Boston.
It was felt the Bruins would have been playing with fire if they allowed Marchand -- a 37-goal scorer last year -- to start the season unsigned, especially after he ripped up the World Cup of Hockey competition on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Sidney Crosby. Bruins president Cam Neely told CSN a couple of weeks ago that Boston was aiming to get the deal done with Marchand prior to the start of the regular season. In fact, they managed to get it done before the start of even the preseason.
Marchand has consistently said that he wants to finish out his career with the Bruins, who drafted and developed him and with whom he turned into an elite player in the last couple of years. He’s clearly taking a hometown discount to stick with Boston.
This is what Marchand said to CSN on breakup day last April:
“I obviously love being a part of this organization, this city and this team, and I don’t think this team is done having some good runs. I would love to be a part of this organization for the rest of my career, but the reality is when you look around the league that it doesn’t happen for many guys. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”
Well, the time came and Marchand put his money where his sometimes big mouth usually is. The Bruins agitator easily could have demanded a yearly salary of $7 million-plus in free agency.
Credit to Don Sweeney and Neely for closing the deal with Marchand, and ticking one very important thing off their checklist that will help make the Bruins great again.